Kiev says Europe could do without Russian gas

© Petr Josek
Ukraine’s Naftogaz claims Russia's Gazprom is no longer critically important for Europe, even if it completely stops supplying gas to Europe.

“There is a model that shows that even if Gazprom completely stops gas supplies to Europe, Europe will substitute them. There will be problems in Eastern Europe, but there still will be substitution,” Naftogaz head Andrey Kobolev told the Ukrainian media.

However, contrary to Kobolev’s suggestion, Europe has been increasing gas supplies from Russia.

In 2015, Gazprom exported 158.6 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe, keeping its position as the largest supplier of gas to the European market.

The Russian gas company now has a 31 percent share, and exported almost a third more gas than its nearest competitor - Norway, said Gazprom Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Medvedev.

In April, Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller announced that in the first quarter of this year, supplies to non-CIS countries by the company grew 28.6 percent in year-on-year terms.

Miller added that the UK increased Russian gas imports by 242.6 percent, the Netherlands by 122.7 percent, Germany by 26.7 percent and Austria by 34.2 percent. According to Miller, Gazprom could break its supply volume record this year.

Gazprom is planning to boost gas supplies to Western Europe by building the Nord Stream-2 pipeline. The pipeline will provide an additional direct route for Russian gas to Germany via the Baltic Sea bypassing Ukraine and be able to deliver up to 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

The Nord Stream-2 pipeline project has become necessary for both Russia and the EU due to the continuing problem of reliability of gas transit though Ukraine. Moscow is concerned about a repeat of a gas crisis similar to 2006 which left parts of Europe without heat after Ukraine began to siphon off gas sent to the European market.